A 93-YEAR-OLD Bellerby man, who started work as an apprentice joiner 79 years ago, has been honoured with a special award for his long service to the construction industry.

Lewis Peace, who was in charge of maintenance and supervision of all the MoD ranges at Catterick and Richmond, was made a Jubilee Member of the Institute of Clerks of Works and Construction Inspectorate in a special ceremony in his own front room.

Ron Philpot, Institute President, paid tribute to Lewis in a citation and presented him with a framed certificate marking his 50 years’ membership.

As clerk of works at Catterick Camp, Lewis was responsible for the water and sewage works, all the ranges and the workshops.

When he was made redundant 33 years ago, he worked for Darlington council for two years before joining a private firm where he surveyed ancient monuments and churches, working into his seventies.

Until five years ago, Lewis continued to do the fabric report and site survey for the Bellerby village church of St John the Evangelist. Five years after grant-aided work on the building, some of the ridge tiles came loose. Then in his 89th year, he climbed the ladder, re-bedded the tiles and cleaned out the gutters.

“Only a few weeks ago he was helping repair the clacker on the church bell,” said his daughter, Jennifer Pearson. “He’s not well, he’s 93 years old, and I try to make sure he doesn’t overdo things, but it’s very difficult to stop him”.

Lewis started work as an apprentice joiner at Ripley’s builders in Leeds in 1938, pushing bags of sand and cement uphill in a handcart.

In the Second World War, he worked on government property, including gun sites, food stores and temporary Land Army hostels and Nissan huts for the gun crews.

He said: “During the early part of the hostilities, our firm built the air raid shelters in Leeds City Square. The airship Graf Zeppelin flew over several parts of the UK which hastened the preparations.”

His most memorable task was refitting the new hanging dock in Armley Jail in Leeds.

“I made the drop doors, with panels four inches thick, and on the underside were springs like on a Howitzer gun to make sure they fell apart.

“But the execution dock was never actually used,” he said. Capital punishment was abolished in 1965.

Lewis also recalls being asked to make three replica 17th century cricket bats for a memorial day celebration at Fulneck private school near Leeds, where cricketing legend Len Hutton played for the local team before achieving international fame.